Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. As a small child growing up in the United States, you were told this was when America was discovered. Of course, as you get older, you figure out this is a serious oversimplification. These days, the controversy over this event in world history has made Columbus Day one of the most inconsistently celebrated American holidays.
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The Council of State Governments says that fewer than half of the states observe Columbus Day as a paid holiday. In South Dakota, it was replaced in 1990 with Native Americans Day. Hawaii unofficially celebrates Discoverers' Day on the second Monday in October. The U.S. Virgin Islands has two holidays on this day and they put more emphasis on Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day. It was replaced with Commonwealth Cultural Day in 2006 in the Northern Marianas.
For much of its history Columbus Day was a patriotic celebration, encouraging wide-eyed wonder at the voyage of Columbus and his companions and their discovery of our now-powerful country. In recent years however, people have come to question the accuracy and consequences of the Columbus Day narrative, particularly the way it glosses over the injustices suffered by the native peoples of the Americas and the Euro-centricism it promotes.
Read more about the history of Columbus Day:
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History: Columbus Day